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BBC news with Julie Candler.
A Colombian General kidnapped by the FARC rebel group early this month has been released. General Ruben Dario Alzate and two companions have been taken to a military base near the city of Medellin. They are due to be reunited with their families. The General's capture prompted the Colombian government to suspend long-running peace talks with the FARC in Cuba. A FARC representative in Havana Ivan Markas said a peace agreement was vital for Colombia.
“We asked President Santos to use his common sense and agreed we cannot continue with the absurdity of prolonging these peace talks in the middle of a war. It's time for a ceasefire on both sides, said the fighting can no longer interrupt such a beautiful and historic process like that of peace, a process which our nation longs for.”
Pope Francis has urged Muslim leaders worldwide to speak out clearly and condemned terrorism carried out in the name of Islam. Returning from a trip to Turkey where he met the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Pope said he understood how Muslims were offended by a stereotype of the decreed Islamic terrorism.
An investigation into corruption in the Iraqi army has revealed that there were 50,000 fictious names on its pay roll. The scale of the problem came to light in an inquiry headed by the Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who says the excess payments have been halted, Alan Johnston reports.
“The 50,000 extra pay roll names belong to what were know in the Iraqi army as "ghost soldiers", they didn't exist or they no longer reported for duty, but their salaries were paid and presumably siphoned off by corrupt officers. The Americans spent billions try to build up the Iraqi army. It’s collapsed when Islamic state militants launched their northern offensive last summer. And one of the reasons for that weakness was the chronic corruption in the army's ranks.”
The charity Save the Children has defended its record on tackling Ebola in Sierra Leone. Following complains that the treatment center it run is three quarters empty, the agency says the safety of the stuff at the Kerry Town center in the capital Freetown is paramount. Andrew Harding has been to the center.
“A rare song in the Kerry Town Ebola facility, songs in celebrations as the 21-year-old student is discharged cured of the virus. Where 80 beds here at the centerpiece of Britain's response to the Ebola outbreak, but nearly four weeks after it opened, only 14 beds are currently occupied. Save the Children insists it always intended a slow start, training stuff takes time, but the organization says that all 80 beds will soon be filled.”
World news from the BBC.
The British government has expressed disappointment at China's decision to deny a British Parliamentary committee permission to enter Hong Kong to conduct an inquiry. A British foreign office spokesman said the refusal was not in the spirit of agreements signed 30 years ago for the transfer of Hong Kong sovereignty from Britain to China.
A Christian militia in the Central African Republic which has been accused of carrying out wide-spread atrocities says it has abandoned violence in favor of politics. The spokesman for the anti-Malaki movement urged fighters to lay down their weapons. The new political organization is to be known as the central African party for unity and development.
The organization representing the world's French-speaking countries has named a woman to be its leader for the first time. Former governor-general of Canada Mikal Ron was chosen at the frankphone summit in the Senegal capital Dakar. Born in Haiti, she and her family fled to Canada as refugees in the 1960s. Mikal Ron has promised to shift the organization's focus towards economic issues. “People are seen in this economic strategy some hope and new relevance for our frankphone, you know, countries, peoples and civilizations came together by doing business together, by exchanging economy together, and this is how, you know, we saw civilizations coming together, this is the history of humanity.”
Nearly 2,000 Brazilian couples have got married at an indoor sports venue in Rio de Janeiro in the biggest mass wedding in the city's history. The annual event promoted by the local authorities is aimed at helping low-income couples who can't afford to pay for a wedding. Many of the couples have been living together for years. The authorities in Rio books special commuter trains for the couples and their guests. An estimated 12,000 people attended the ceremony. BBC news.